The Ausbund

The Ausbund is an amazing collection of songs that the Amish sing at their church services. It is a rare find in bookstores (and probably can only be found online for most people). I have been blessed to have been given a copy by my Amish friends. What a lovely book. I spent the morning reading some of the songs and reflecting on their meaning. What I quickly realized is that it is the guide to their religion. I also realized that the rest of the world could benefit from reading the Ausbund and applying the same principles to our daily lives.

It was Song 56 that struck me as it specifically discusses the process for shunning another person in the community. It starts with trying to work out the problems with the offending member/neighbor but if things are not rectified, the members are instructed to avoid the individual in question.

    “From him do separate yourself
    Indeed the very same hour,
    Keep him as a heathen
    As Christ has proclaimed
    Paul also said without deceit and craftiness
    Put him away from among you
    Whoever is disobedient.”
    (Verse 8)

The song goes on to tell the reader to still love that neighbor and do not spread gossip.

What I find so telling about this is the gentle way that the “disobedient” are handled. There is no court system, no fines, no jail time…just a removal of oneself from that individual until such a time as they are prepared to accept the reproof of the church.

Isn’t that the way we should all handle strife in our life? Rather than lash out or retaliate with hurtful words, simply separate ourselves from the person and situation. This is a valuable lesson for us, one of many that the Amish have to share.

7 thoughts on “The Ausbund

  1. I love everything Amish,…….EXCEPT……I don’t understand how the Amish can forgive someone like the man that went into the Amish school and killed all of those kids, yet they shun their own for something that in a lot of cases is trivial. I understand that that man was NOT Amish and did NOT have to go by Amish rules, but if the Amish are so forgiving, shouldn’t they begin with their own and let the person that disobeyed work it out on their OWN with God? I admire their way of life, but STILL….I have a problem with that aspect of it.

    1. You have touched a crucial point, common to many beliefs and religions, not only the Amish. Forgiveness is absolutely necessary for people both as a society and as individuals. Without it, you are bound to live in the past and will never move on with your life. Forgiving someone who committed such atrocities like this man who killed Amish kids is, in a way, much easier than doing the same for someone within your community that shared your beliefs yet broke a minor rule. The perpetrator of atrocities is basically doomed and will have to respond to a higher authority. However, the shunned Amish can still redeem himself if he genuinely repents; the pressure from his peers -in this case shunning, or social rejection- is very instrumental in bringing about his redemption. It also requires more “work” and community involvement. It also serves to cement the community by reminding them daily about the infraction. This is why more emphasis takes place in such cases.

  2. Shape notes?
    For Forgiveness, I reflect on a prayer Jesus taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses, as WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us”, Simply put, will God forgive YOU if you dont forgive your neighbor?
    Within the Anabaptist circles, we hold each other accountable, ordinances, when you are baptized into the faith, join the church… you hold each other accountable, sometimes communion is even canceled until the bound of community is healed. When someone breaks one of the “rules” and refuses to confess, and receive forgiveness, they have no choice but to remove them from the community. Its done in a loving way, the hope is to bring the brother, or sister back from sin. Its very scriptural.
    If I remember correctly, its the reason the Amish separated from the Mennonite church, because they did not hold strong enough to this policy.
    To understand Nickel Mine Shooting better, I recommend reading “Amish Grace” by Donald Kraybill (doing this by memory…I think its kraybill, Zurick, and Weiderhold (sp) Donald for sure.

    1. Nice reply, Donna. We see a lot of this theme in the books we read (re: Amish fiction). It’s the communities way of maintaining order among their flock. If they didn’t do this, can you imagine how quickly their plain lifestyle would last? I truly believe that the Amish are onto something quite valuable that the rest of us should live by…

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